AstraZeneca CEO says exploring biosimilars market

LONDON Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:04pm EDT

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AstraZeneca Pascal Soriot poses for a photograph in this undated picture provided by AstraZeneca in London on March 12, 2013. REUTERS/Marcus Lyon/AstraZeneca/Handout/Files

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AstraZeneca Pascal Soriot poses for a photograph in this undated picture provided by AstraZeneca in London on March 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Marcus Lyon/AstraZeneca/Handout/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca is evaluating whether to enter the so-called biosimilars market, its new CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday.

"You'll hear more from us in the next few months as we conclude what we should be doing here. We may decide to not proceed but certainly this is something we are looking at very closely," he told analysts during a strategy update.

The expiry of patents on expensive biotech medicines to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases is opening up a new market for lower-cost copies known as "biosimilars" because they are not identical matches of branded medicines.

Some companies with expertise in making biological medicines, like Novartis and Amgen, are already developing biosimilars. They could be suitable, too, for AstraZeneca, which also has biologics capacity.

Soriot said AstraZeneca was evaluating especially whether developing biosimilars would be a suitable strategy for China and other emerging markets.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler)

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